Torta Pasqualina | Authentic Italian Easter Pie Recipe
The most unique element of this savory Italian Easter cake is its unusual crust, formed by multiple layers of rolled dough with brushed olive oil in between. The final effect resembles a puff pasty crust with a twist!
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we made this recipe here:
For this recipe, you will need:
- 700g / 24oz. swiss chard with stems (this should translate into roughly 12oz. of leaves and 12oz. of stalks when separated. No need to be terribly precise, you just want enough to layer the bottom of a pie dish when fully wilted)
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for cooking, plus about 1/2 cup for brushing the dough layers
- 1/4 large onion, chopped
- Black pepper
- 500g/8oz ricotta
- 1 tsp dried marjoram
- Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to taste (about 1/4 cup, more on this later)
- 500g / 17.5oz. all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt it thoroughly. Add the swiss chard stalks and boil until tender.
Meanwhile, bring 2 tbsp olive oil up to medium temperature in a large sautée pan. Add the chopped onion and sautée until tender and slightly transparent. Add the swiss chard leaves and cook, covered but stirring occasionally, until wilted.
When the stalks are soft and tender, strain them and add into the pan with the leaves. Salt and pepper to taste, and sautée together for a minute or two. Turn off the heat, allow to cool and set aside for later.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta with the marjoram, black pepper to taste, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. We recommend adding this to taste, as the consistency or flavor of the ricotta can have a big impact on how much Parmigiano is necessary.
Set the mixture aside for later.
Pour the flour into a pile on a large work surface. Form a small hollow with your hand and add 2 tbsp olive oil.
Fill a glass with warm water and begin gradually adding a little bit at a time to the dough while mixing it in with your hands. The amount of water needed will vary considerably, so we recommend doing so gradually until you have a dough that is soft and supple but not sticky. Don't worry if you add a little too much! Simply dust with a little extra flour until you lose the stickiness.
Knead the dough thoroughly until it is smooth and even. Cut the dough into 7 equal portions.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush a 12-inch pie dish (we used a deep dish but that isn't strictly necessary) with olive oil. Roll one portion of the dough out until it is very thin and large enough to completely drape over the dish. Do so and make sure that it lies flat against the contours and corners of the dish. Brush this layer of dough thoroughly with olive oil.
Repeat this process 3 more times. The final product will be a bottom crust of 4 dough layers, each separated by brushed olive oil. Be sure to oil the final layer as well!
Spread the swiss chard evenly over the bottom crust. Top this with the ricotta mixture. Using a spoon, make 4 large hollows in the ricotta layer, equally spaced apart. Crack one egg into each of these hollows.
Roll another dough portion out and drape over the top of the cake. Brush this with oil and repeat 2 more times.
When the top crust has all 3 layers, trim the overhanging dough along the dish rim and roll the edges inward to form a rounded crust. Brush the entire surface of the pie liberally with olive oil.
Bake for 55 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown. Allow to cool. Preferably, refrigerate and serve the next day.